Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Accused Boston bomber pleads not guilty

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Accused Boston bomber arrives at court

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev makes his first court appearance after being charged with killing three marathon spectators and later shooting dead a university police officer.

Boston: The accused marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood in a Boston federal court and calmly answered in a thick accent "not guilty" to charges of committing the worst mass-casualty attack on US soil since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Tsarnaev repeatedly answered that he was not guilty of charges that he killed three people by setting off homemade pressure-cooker bombs, assembled by him and his older brother Tamerlan, on April 15.

He looked around the courtroom, watching prosecutors as they spoke and occasionally glancing back at survivors of the attack. 

A later gun battle with police in the suburb of Watertown, Massachusetts led to the death of 26-year-old Tamerlan and a day-long lockdown of most of the Boston area as police searched for Dzhokhar.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appears in court in Boston, Massachusetts in this court sketch.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appears in court in Boston, Massachusetts in this court sketch. Photo: Reuters

It is also alleged the Tsarnaevs killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier while they were on the run.

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Of the 30 charges Dzhokhar faces - including using a weapon of mass destruction - 17 could bring the death penalty, though it is not yet clear if the prosecution will seek capital punishment.

About midday on Wednesday local time, a prisoner transport vehicle escorted by a Humvee filled with armed men swept past onlookers into the court complex. A small gaggle of supporters chanted, "Justice for Dzhokhar'' and "Give him his freedom back''.

Tsarnaev family members and others depart the federal courthouse in Boston following the arraignment of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev family members and others depart the federal courthouse in Boston following the arraignment of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Photo: AP

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit he appeared in a courtroom filled with survivors of the attack, media and a few of his supporters, while hundreds of others filled overflow rooms.

The last time the 19-year-old was seen it public was 11 weeks ago, four days after the bombing, when he was caught cowering in a boat in a back yard in Watertown. His brother Tamerlan, accused of having lead the attack, had already died in a gun battle with police.

Waiting in the queue to gain access to the court some of his supporters, who had travelled from around the US, apparently believed he was the victim of a government conspiracy.

A van, believed to be carrying Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, arrives at the federal courthouse for his arraignment.

A van carrying Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev arrives at the federal courthouse for his arraignment. Photo: AP

Karina Figueroa, 35, a New York City resident, said she believes that Tsarnaev is wrongly accused.

"I've seen a lot of videos showing inconsistencies,'' Karina Figueroa, 35, a New York City resident, told the Boston Globe. "They are framing him, I believe. I want him to be exonerated.''

Duke Latouf of Las Vegas, told the paper he believed the attack was part of a plan by government to impose martial law on Americans.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Photo: Reuters

"I believe this is a false flag for martial law,'' said Mr Latouf, who said he flew in from Las Vegas. "I think they were Hollywood-style bombs.''

According to the prosecution Tsarnaev, a Muslim born in Kyrgyzstan who immigrated in 2002, wrote about his motivations for the bombing on the inside walls of the boat where he was hiding.

He wrote the US government was "killing our innocent civilians."

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Karen Brassard arrives at the federal courthouse for the court appearance by accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Karen Brassard arrives at the federal courthouse for the court appearance by accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Photo: Reuters

"I don't like killing innocent people," he said, but also wrote: "I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished. … We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all."

Prosecutor William Weinreb said the government would call 80 to 100 witnesses in a trial that could last four months.

Three of those who died— Martin Richard, 8; Krystle Marie Campbell, 29; and Lingzi Lu, 23 — were killed by the bombs.

Duke La Touf, of Las Vegas, stands in support of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev outside the federal courthouse.

Duke La Touf, of Las Vegas, stands in support of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev outside the federal courthouse. Photo: AP

With Reuters


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